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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More trouble for Labour

The Labour Party is facing more questions today on its internal management after the repercussions from the Paul Flowers' affair landed on their doorstep. The Times reports that Labour is under pressure over why it failed to raise the alarm about the Co-operative Bank chairman when he was forced out of a council for having pornography on his laptop.

Tory MPs are suggesting that Labour politicians covered up for Mr Flowers because he was providing gifts and loans for the party. The paper highlights a number of specific issues:

- Len Wardle, the Chairman of the Co-Operative Group, and a prominent supporter of Ed Balls, resigned taking the blame for appointing Mr Flowers as head of the bank.

- But Ursula Lidbetter, his replacement, was immediately accused of taking part in the same decision.

- It emerged that the one of the regulators who gave formal advice to Mr Flowers before he became head of the bank was later given a seat on the Co-Operative Bank’s board.

They add that in November 2011 Mr Flowers was invited to join Mr Miliband at a dinner as a member of the Labour leader’s Business and Industry Advisory Board:

In March 2012, Mr Flowers personally took part in a decision by the Co-operative Group to give an unprecedented £50,000 gift to the office of Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor whose constituency is in the neighbouring city of Leeds. Mr Balls’ office said he never discussed the donation with Mr Flowers.

Brooks Newmark, a Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee, said: “The toxic element of a great ethical institution like the Co-operative is the way the Labour Party has effectively infiltrated it and infected it because of the benefits they have been receiving from it. The only way the Labour Party could get a loan if it didn’t have the Co-operative Bank is from Wonga.”

He said Labour knew about Mr Flowers’ inappropriate behaviour “but remained silent on it because he played an important role as a key individual in giving the money to Labour MPs like Mr Balls.”

Whatever his qualifications as a potential Prime Minister, it seems that it is the failure to manage his party adequately that is giving Ed Miliband the most trouble at present.
I wonder if the hedge funds that now call the shots at the bank will call in the 1.5 million loan out to the Labour Party... or will a call from the hedge funds' favorite (ex-) Chancellor Gordon Brown ensure the line stays in place?
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